Thursday, June 30, 2005

Action & the Evil "As"




Warning: Incoming RANT!
ACTION Scenes = Chronological Order

If you visualize the characters doing something in a specific order – you write it in THAT order!


Life is full of random events. FICTION is NOT.

Every element in a story; every character, every situation, and every object, must be there for a REASON, and have a Reason to Be There. In Fiction, NOTHING happens “just because” – especially in Action Sequences.

REALITY = Something random happens - you React.
Action – Reaction - Action – Reaction
- In Chronological order

FICTION =
The Plot happens to the characters - they React.
Action – Reaction - Action – Reaction
- In Chronological order

The SPECIFIC Pattern of ACTION
Stimulus > Physical Reaction > Sensation Perception > Emotional Reaction > Deliberate Reaction

If you want the Reader to SEE the actions that you are trying to portray as a movie in their minds, Chronological Order is the ONLY way to do it. This order is VERY specific. You may SKIP steps, but you may not change the order.

1) Stimulus > Something happens TO the Viewpoint Character. (Action).

THEN...
The Viewpoint Character has a CHAIN of REACTIONS.


2) Physical Reaction > The character has a knee-jerk Physical Reaction to what has just happened. (Reaction)

THEN...

3) Sensation Perception & Reaction > The character feels Physical Sensations and physically reacts to the sensations. (Reaction)

THEN...

4) Emotional Reaction > They have an Emotional Reaction reflected in their thoughts with Internal Narration and/or a Vocal Comment about what had just happened.(Reaction)

THEN...

5) Deliberate Reaction >
They Respond. They DO something, or SAY something about that action – or both! (Reaction) (When in doubt, Dialogue goes LAST. People ACT faster than they Think.)

THEN...

1)
NEW Stimulus >
External Reaction of the OTHER person or an Outside event, (Action)

This starts the viewpoint character's CHAIN of REACTIONS again!

In a nutshell:
  • Stimulus - Something happened
  • Physical Reaction - Their body’s immediate physical reaction
  • Sensation & Reaction - The physical sensations & then their Reactions to those sensations
  • Emotional Reaction - What they thought about what was happening – Internal Narration
  • Deliberate Reaction - How they responded -- Physical Action THEN Comment
  • What happened Next
- In that order -- ALWAYS.

What it Looks Like: 

(1-Stimulous) Will lunged, stabbing his sword toward Jack.

(2-Physical Reaction) Jack twisted to intercept the oncoming blade with his blade, rather than his body. (3-Sensation Perception & Reaction) The swords impacted with a bone-jarring slam and a metallic shriek. Jack winced. (4-Emotional - Narrative - Reaction) Apparently Will had forgotten that swordfights made a lot of noise; not to mention other physical damage that might hamper escape. (5-Deliberate Reaction) He slid his sword up Will’s blade and smiled. “Will, fighting right here, right now, isn’t the brightest idea in the world. I don’t know if you noticed, but there are a bunch of cutthroat pirates in the next cave?”

(1-New Stimulous) Will flinched back and scowled. “I don’t care. I want to rescue her now!”

Violating Chronological Order is Bad.

If you write the actions out of order, the Mental Movie STOPS and the Reader has to STOP READING to rearrange what they are reading into the correct order of events to get the movie back.

Incorrect:
  • The flash of pain exploded in my cheek [Results of Event] as her hand lashed out at me in a slap. [Event]
Correct:
  • Her hand lashed out in a slap. [Event]
  • A flash of pain exploded in my cheek. [Results]
See?

"HEY! That one line became Two Sentences?"

Yes it did. THIS is the correct form for FICTION. Two peoples' Actions should NEVER happen in the same sentence - OR the Same Paragraph, for all the same reasons that two differen't peoples' Dialogue does not happen in the same paragraph.

"But, my Grammar Book says it's Okay...?"

Screw your English grammar books! Basic Grammar is Not designed for FICTION. Basic Grammar is designed for NON-FICTION, such as reports, essays, and letters.

(I can already hear the OTHER whining...)


"But with all those little paragraphs, it doesn’t look Neat & Tidy."

YES, written chronological action and dialogue tends to make lots of little paragraphs, and looks very choppy on the page.

Neat & Tidy, be damned!

Who Cares what the words look like on the page? It may look choppy, but the reader has absolutely no doubt as to who is doing what. Making the scene hard for the reader to PICTURE as they read, is a Bad Idea.

The Reader's perceptions are more important than whether or not your type looks tidy. Once the reader has their Mental Movie rolling, they won’t even SEE the words – they're too busy making pictures in their head to even Notice that they are reading!

Anytime the reader has to STOP to reread a passage and rearrange the words to FIT their mental movie, you’ve made a BREAK.

Breaks are Bad – very, very BAD!  

A break creates a moment where the reader can Put the Book Down -- and forget to pick it back up again.

"But now I have page after page of really short sentences!"

If you've separated your paragraphs by character, and discovered that you have reams of paragraphs only a sentence long, (most likely strings of dialogue,) you have just exposed another insidious problem happening in your story:

Not Enough Description

Luckily, this is a fairly easy cure. Just describe the places and actions that go with those lines.

Example: 
Dialogue Only:
"Himawari-chan, I have your lunch!"

Dialogue + ACTION:
Lunch time found Kimihiro walking around to the back of the school carrying the three lacquered wood bento boxes.

Himawari was already at their chosen spot.

Kimihiro couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. He waved. "Himawari-chan, I have your lunch!"

Dialogue + Action + DESCRIPTION:
Lunch time found Kimihiro walking around to the back of the school carrying the three lacquered wood bento boxes wrapped in a large cloth in one hand, and the thermos of chilled jasmine tea in the other.

Himawari was already at their chosen spot under the tree. She knelt on the small picnic blanket, neat and prim in her stark black skirt and white summer top, while talking cheerfully to her tiny bright yellow bird, Tanpopo, Dandilion. The ultra-feminine black coils of her sumptuous mane spilled down her back and tumbled down around her lap. Two small coiling tails bound with yellow bows framed either side of her impishly sweet face.

Kimihiro couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. So cuuute! Himawari was everything a pretty girl should be, and she was just as sweet as she appeared. He waved. "Himawari-chan, I have your lunch!"
Okay?

For a more in-depth look at adding actions and description to your text, read:


"What about Literary styles?"

What about them? If you simply MUST have stylish phrasing in your fiction, either keep it in chronological order, or save it for description and dialogue, but keep it out of the Action sequences!

The Evil Nasty ViciousAs 

Remove “As” from your work, Now!

"As" is a RED FLAG word. If you see them, something is Wrong with your writing. If you see a LOT of them, something is Seriously Wrong with your writing.

“As” is supposed to mean: two actions happening simultaneously. Unfortunately nine times out of ten, "As" denotes that the author has written their actions Out of Chronological Sequence. In other words, the sentence is Backwards! The actions are occurring AFTER the Effects of those Actions.

Example:

    • The blades rang as Jack parried Will's attack. 
    THINK...! Which came first, really?
    • Jack parried Will's attack?
    or
    • The blades rang?
      Answer:
      • The blades made contact FIRST: Jack parried Will's attack. 
      • THEN: The blades rang.

      Adjusted:

      • Jack parried Will's attack and the blades rang.

      Another problem “As” flags is when the Actions of TWO characters are in the same paragraph.

      Example:


      • Will’s grip tightened upon the hilt of his blade as Jack gestured with his sword.
      Bad! Bad! Bad! Characters are selfish creatures, they Do Not SHARE -- EVER! Characters ALWAY get their Own Paragraphs.


      Two Characters Acting = Two paragraphs!

      Each character gets their own paragraph -- ALWAYS! The actions and dialogue of one character, Do Not Happen in the Same Paragraph as the actions and dialogue of another character because the Mental Movie picture become muddied for the Reader.

      However, not only were two characters in the same paragraph, the actions were out of sequence too! In fact, it was backwards.

       Example:

      • Will’s grip tightened upon the hilt of his blade [Results of Event] as Jack gestured with his sword. [Event
      THINK...! Which really came first?  
      • Will’s grip tightened upon the hilt of his blade?
      or
      • Jack gestured with his sword?

      Adjusted:
      • Jack gestured with his sword. [Event]
      • Will’s grip tightened upon the hilt of his blade. [Results of Event]

      “As” can also denote Dialogue Tags sneaking in where they aren't needed.

      Example:

      • "Get a life, Jack." Will growled as he tried to push against Jack's defensive stance.
      ARRRGH!

      You Don’t need DIALOGUE TAGS when you have Actions! 

      You already know, through the action, who is speaking. Dialogue tags are only ever needed when you don’t have any other way of identifying the speaker.

      Oh, AND the Actions are Out of Sequence --
      • "Get a life, Jack," Will growled as he tried to push against Jack's defensive stance.
      AND...! The dialogue is in the Wrong Place too! In fact, the entire sentence is back to front. However, lets deal with the dialogue first.
        Action precedes Dialogue 

        Action goes FIRST and Dialogue goes LAST. Dialogue always happens AFTER Actions, because Speech FREEZES Action in Real Life, not just in fiction. People ACT faster than they THINK. (Ask any martial artist.)

        So, THINK...! In what order did these things really happen?
        • "Get a life, Jack," 
        • He tried to push against Jack's defensive stance.

        Adjusted:
          • Will pushed against Jack's defensive stance. "Get a life, Jack."

            And while we're at it... Leave the damned Dialogue ATTACHED to the end of the Paragraph, or no one will know who said it!

            Who's idea was it anyway, to separate Dialogue from it's own paragraph? They need to be SLAPPED. Cutting off the dialogue defeats the whole purpose of using Actions to differentiate between speakers, Forcing the author to use Dialogue Tags. 


            KILL the "As"!

            As you can clearly see, the word “As” is a devious sinister monster that should be destroyed on sight.

            "As"
            should only be used by Trained Professionals. Unfortunately, I have purchased far too many books where the Trained Professionals (multi-published authors,) got it WRONG. (sigh)

            If you discover an infestation of "As", (they tend to sneak in when you least expect them,) use your Search/Replace function, and Replace "As" in your manuscripts with "And". If your action sequences are out of order you'll SEE IT right away.

            I have spoken.

            Morgan Hawke
            www.darkerotica.net
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Tuesday, June 28, 2005

            Tricks to Tight 'Sneaky' DESCRIPTION


            How would you convey what is happening in this picture?
            - How would you describe this character?
            - Her actions?
            - Her setting?
            - Her mood?

            Getting the IMAGE on Paper
            Avoid Simple Nouns:
            The door, the car, the tree, the house, the sword, the dress, the hat... Write instead: The French doors, the Subaru, the oak, the Victorian cottage... Using a Specific Noun, rather than a simple and vague noun, automatically pops in description.

            Adjectives are your Friend!
            Adjectives give your objects and locations emotional flavor and impact. The trick is not to over-do it! Moderation - moderation - moderation.

            One adjective per Noun: Put in an Adjective -- in addition -- to a specific Noun. The ornate French tapestry, the rusty Subaru, the yellow Victorian cottage.

            Two adjectives per Sensation: Sight, Sound, Taste, Texture, Scent - are all perceived through the senses. The glaringly red French doors, the seductively throbbing jazz, the creamy bite of yogurt, the nubby white dishcloth, the pungent musk of wet dog.

            The Not-So Dreaded -ly Words.
            Every once in a while you will hear someone whine that you shouldn't use words that end in -ly. The "No -ly words!" whiners are usually the same people that say: "Don't use Adjectives!" Think People! How the heck are you supposed to describe something without adjectives? You CAN'T.

            The "No -ly Words" rule
            DOES NOT APPLY
            to Fiction!

            This rule comes from Basic School Grammar - grammar that was intended for NON-fiction, such as Reports and other boring description-less education-related or business-related writing. On the other hand, Fiction THRIVES on description!

            Still Feeling Guilty?
            If you can find another word that says the same thing without ending in -ly, use it. If you can't, then use what you have and DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.


            Making the Reader FEEL the Passion
            You want PASSION? Make the prose PURPLE!
            Seriously. Sensually-Descriptive and Erotically-charged words are the key to Romantic and Sexually-charged fiction. If it implies a Sense - sound, taste, sight, texture, scent - you're halfway there!

            So, where do you get them there what's-it words? From Trained Professionals: Other Writers. I pulled out my favorite trashy novels and hunted down phrases that really caught my attention and then I made a list of all the PRETTY words.

            salacious humor
            carnal gratification
            languorous bliss
            shrieking culmination
            disconcerting stimulation
            brutal carnal rapture
            exquisite torment
            lustful cravings
            irresolute yearning
            skittish laughter

            I also dug through my thesaurus and made another list of all the adjectives I use over and over and over...


            Assault - attack, advancing, aggressive, assailing, charging, incursion, inundated, invasion, offensive, onset, onslaught, overwhelmed, ruinous, tempestuous, strike, violation,

            Beautiful - admirable, alluring, angelic, appealing, bewitching, charming, dazzling, delicate, delightful, divine, elegant, enticing, exquisite, fascinating, gorgeous, graceful, grand, magnificent, marvelous, pleasing, radiant, ravishing, resplendent, splendid, stunning, sublime,

            Dangerous - alarming, critical, fatal, formidable, impending, malignant, menacing, mortal, nasty, perilous, precarious, pressing, serious, terrible, threatening, treacherous, urgent, vulnerable, wicked,

            Painful - aching, agonizing, arduous, awful, biting, burning, caustic, dire, distressing, dreadful, excruciating, extreme, grievous, inflamed, piercing, raw, sensitive, severe, sharp, tender, terrible, throbbing, tormenting,



            How & When to Describe it:
            Rule of Thumb #1:
            -- The moment the POV Character notices it -- DESCRIBE IT!
            Picture the scene in your head like a movie. If it shows up in your scene - it belongs on the page.

            Rule of Thumb #2:
            -- Description should always reflect the OPINION of the Viewpoint Character.
            Oscar the Grouch is not going to see - or describe - a field of roses the same way as Big Bird. Darth Vader's opinion (and description,) of Yoda is not going to resemble Luke Skywalker's. The Heroine is NOT going to describe the Villain the same way she would her Hero.

            Rule of Thumb #3
            - Limit your detailed descriptions to stuff that is Relevant.
            How do you tell what's relevant & what's not? How IMPORTANT is it to the story? Will this object/setting/character matter later?
            • If it's Important, then describe it in loving detail.
            • If it's only incidental, than only the tiniest sketch is needed.
            Rule of Thumb #4
            - Moderation! Moderation! Moderation!
            Once you have described a setting or a person thoroughly, you don’t need to Keep Describing them -- unless they change. A small clue here and there, such as keeping to specific nouns, will do.

            WHAT to Describe:
            Scenery
            Every new scene should open with a snapshot of description that details the stage the action is about to happen in.

            No more than 60 words max. If you need more than that to describe your setting - splice it into your Action.

            Location Changes
            Every time the scenery changes: every new room, every new view, every new place they arrive at - gets described; so the reader can see it, and experience it too -- but don't go overboard.

            If your story is based in the normal contemporary world, what the Setting looks like only matters in their immediate location and how it affects them directly. For example, rain has more of an immediate effect on characters than would sunshine - unless they're a vampire.

            Locations get 30 words max, because that's about how much the average person can catch in a single look. The rest of the details should be mixed in between the actions and dialogue as the character gets a better look around.


            Note: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Require MORE Description.

            In most sci-fi's and fantasies, the otherworldly SETTING is just as important as the characters because the differences between Fantasy & Reality actually affect the plot -- such as things that are possible in a Fantasy setting, but aren't in the normal world, and vice versa.

            The snapshot at the beginning of every scene is still the same length (60 words) - but you have to continue to add more description as the characters move through the world.

            People
            Think of how you see characters in a movie. THAT'S how you describe the people your character sees. Start at the top and describe down. Bottom to Top description implies that the Body is more important than the Mind. It implies that the viewer is looking for sex -- and nothing more.

            Note to FanFiction Authors:
            Fantasy Characters should get the opportunity to show off the full extent of their powers at least once because those powers are relevant to who that character is and why they act as they do.

            People get three whole sentences max. If you need more than three sentences, thread the rest in with the dialogue.

            Describing the Viewpoint Character
            Yes or No?

            YES! YES! YES! I don’t know about you, but when I’m reading a story, I wanna know whose head I'm in -- as soon as I'm in that head! And I want to know what that person LOOKS LIKE! (Damn it...)

            Viewpoint Characters only get three sentences just like any other person in the story.

            Describing the Viewpoint Character is Tricky
            -- Literally. You have to use tricks to do it.
            The simplest way to describe the POV character is by having them see their reflection, (which, is also why it’s the most common technique.) Try to avoid using mirrors. Mirrors have been done to death.

            The other way is by having the character ‘notice’ themselves, one little action at a time. This works best when the character is highly opinionated about their appearance.

            EXAMPLE:
            The delicately feminine gown strewn across the bed was exactly the type I would refuse to wear under any circumstances. To make matters worse, it was a horrifying shade of fairy-tale iridescent pink. I could not believe they actually expected someone as un-delicate and unfeminine as me to actually wear it – in public! Blue-eyed blonds with hoards of golden curls wore shiny pink gowns. Big strapping girls like me, with long pin-straight black hair and cat-green eyes wore dowdy blue dresses, usually with aprons over them.

            The trick I prefer to use is threading the Description into the character's Actions. Using their Actions brings other parts of the character into focus, rather than describe the character in one lump paragraph.

            From: INSATIABLE
            Good god in heaven, this guy wants sex? With her? Was he out of his mind? She wasn’t unattractive; she’d never had a problem getting dates. Her generous bust-line, more than generous butt, and small waist drew the guys out of the woodwork. But this guy was just too pretty to even consider someone that didn’t come straight from Hollywood.

            “I’m flattered, really, but…” She pushed up from the bench and her coiled hair teetered precariously on top of her head. She made a quick grab for the chopsticks jammed in the twisted knot of her long dark blonde mane. Several of her charcoals rolled from her sketchbook to land on the floor with the tiniest sound of breaking glass. “Oh, damn…”

            She abandoned her hair and leaned over the side of the banquette sofa, reaching for the fallen charcoals. Her bare foot struck the wall under the night black window and three of the vampire paperbacks by her knee were knocked to the floor. She groaned in annoyance. It figures… A cute guy and I am an instant klutz. Lifting her feet carefully over the backpack hogging the far end of the sofa, she turned on her belly to get her feet on the floor. Not the sexiest move in the world. Just call me Grace. She hunched down to gather the fallen books and broken charcoals.

            The man crouched at her side and collected one of her fallen vampire books. A black brow rose as he scanned the back cover. “What interesting reading material.”

            Elaine’s cheek heated as she stood. “Yes, I read trashy romances.” She leaned over the sofa to stuff her charcoals and her other two books into her back pack. “It’s a girl thing.”

            “This is a romance?”

            “A trashy romance; it has sex in it.” Elaine glanced over her shoulder and froze.

            He was still crouched, but the book was forgotten in his hand. He was focused entirely on the curve of her jean-clad butt, bent less than a foot from his nose. His midnight stare lifted from her butt to capture her gaze. “Then you like sex?”

            Elaine swallowed the lump in her throat. Oh boy, I really stepped in that one. She stood upright slowly, trying to gather what dignity she could, and then turned around to face him. “Yes, I like sex.” It was too late to deny it now. She tugged the hem of her thick white cable knit sweater down over her hips, and butt. She held out her hand. “My book please?”

            Using Description Wisely!
            Once you have described a setting or a person thoroughly, you DON'T need to Keep Describing them -- unless they change. A small clue here and there, such as keeping to specific nouns, will do.

            For example, in the above excerpt, the man was not described, though Elaine was - and thoroughly. Why was that? Because I HAD ALREADY DESCRIBED HIM in a previous part of the story, this part in fact:

            From: INSATIABLE
            “Might I have your company for the night?”

            “Huh?” Elaine glanced up from her belly-down sprawl across the private compartment’s plush banquette sofa. The art deco lamp directly over her was on, but polished cherry wood walls made the rest of the antique Pullman car very dark. She blinked. Where did he come from?

            A tall man in a nearly floor-length black leather coat, stood just inside the deep shadow of her compartment’s door. His hands hung loose at his sides. “Pardon the intrusion.” His voice was soft, low and velvety with a touch of exotic eastern European lilt. He tilted his head toward the closed door. “I did knock, and your door was unlocked.”

            Elaine bit her lip. She hadn’t heard the knock. Hell, she hadn’t heard the door to her train compartment open either. Damn it, she had to start remembering to lock that door. She sighed. Too late now. “I’m sorry, my best friend says a bomb could go off when I’m drawing and I’d miss it.”

            “An artist’s concentration, I understand.” He stepped into her pool of light. Blue highlights gleamed in the unrelieved blackness of his hair. He wore it combed straight back from the deep peak of his brow, hinting that his hair was long and tied back. Midnight dark eyes peered at her from under straight black brows. Sharp cheekbones and a strong jaw-line defined his aggressively masculine face, but the lush fullness of his mouth and the ivory-pale color of his skin belonged in a neo-classical painting.

            Wow, GQ magazine must be missing a model. She had to close her mouth. The man’s face was that freaking gorgeous. “I’m sorry, what was it you wanted?”

            One corner of his mouth lifted, hinting at amusement. He clasped his hands before him. “Your company, for the night.”

            “My company?” She blinked. That couldn’t be what it sounded like. “For what, exactly?”

            “Sex.” His slightly amused expression didn’t change.

            What was in the picture
            - at the beginning of this article?


            A woman.
            A time of day.
            Weather conditions.
            Actions & Emotions.
            Color.
            MOOD.  

            In your response to the picture above, did you include EVERYTHING in the picture, or only some things? Did you include her hair color and its texture? Her eyes? Her clothes? Whether or not she was pretty? Her sword? Her actions? The snow?
            • What did you include?
            • What did you leave out?
            • What did you merely mention and what did you actually Describe?
            • What did you give color, weight, flavor and emotion to?
            If you were to give your description to a friend who has NOT seen this picture, and then Showed them the picture, would they recognize it?

            DESCRIPTION

            The ONLY way to get YOUR picture across to the Reader.

            Morgan Hawke
            www.darkerotica.net
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Monday, June 13, 2005

            Good for Your Writing! ~ A Book List

            Books I personally recommend!

            Good for PLOT


            The Writer's Journey
            Mythic Structure for Writers
            by Christopher Vogler



            Writing Erotica
            by Edo Van Belkom




            How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
            (Elements of Fiction Writing)
            by Orson Scott Card




            20 Master Plots:

            And How to Build Them
            by Ronald B. Tobias




            The Screenwriter's Workbook
            by SYD FIELD



            Good for CHARACTER


            The Gift of Fear
            by GAVIN DE BECKER


            Personal Note: An absolute MUST READ for VILLAIN Creation!
            Read Chapter One NOW!



            Characters and Viewpoint
            (Elements of Fiction Writing)
            by Orson Scott Card




            Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus:
            A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships

            by John Gray


            Personal Note: Yes, I know the whole controversial story, over what he is, and what he isn’t. That does not change the fact that he’s RIGHT.



            The Writer's Guide to Character Traits:
            Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types

            (Writer's Market Library)
            by Linda N. Edelstein




            Vampire:

            The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead
            by Manuela Dunn-Mascetti




            The Action Heroine's Handbook
            by Jennifer Worick, Joe Borgenicht, Jennifer Worick , Larry Jost

            "AN ACTION HEROINE might, at first blush, look like an innocent ingenue, a damsel in distress, or a high-maintenance high-heeled diva..."



            Good for GRAMMAR


            Scene and Structure
            (Elements of Fiction Writing)
            by Jack M. Bickham




            The Deluxe Transitive Vampire :A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed
            by KAREN ELIZABETH GORDON
            "The subject is that part of the sentence about which something is divulged; it is what the sentence's other words are gossiping about..."




            Eats, Shoots & Leaves:The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
            by Lynne Truss
            "Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't..."




            Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus :
            Updated & Expanded 2nd Edition (21st Century Reference)
            by BARBARA ANN KIPFER


            There you have it, my recommended reads for writing fiction

            Morgan Hawke
            www.darkerotica.net
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Friday, June 10, 2005

            Stages of INTERNAL CONFLICT



            Writing INTERNAL CONFLICT
            ~ On Paper!
            - This is something really advanced, so PAY ATTENTION!

            The scene…
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~
            His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress. His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown. His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.

            Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy... He fired her blood more than any other man.

            She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”

            His gaze narrowed, then he smiled. “Why? Why deny your desire?”

            She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her. “Forgive me, but I want to live.”

            He moved closer, to stand but a breath away. “Are you quite sure?”
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            Yes I know, it’s a bit over the top, but that's what was submitted for this exercise. 

            What we have is a potentially hot scene brewing with a nice little Internal Conflict, but it reads a little muddied.

            What’s wrong?

            This scene’s Internal Conflict is Out of Chronological Sequence!

            The Chronological Order of
            INTERNAL CONFLICT!!!

            ACTION Sequences = Chronological Order
            Chronological Order is the ONLY way to write an Action Scene. If you visualize the characters doing something in a specific order – you write it in THAT order!

            REALITY = something random happens to you
            - and then you react.

            FICTION = the Plot happens to the characters
            - and then they react.

            If you want the reader to SEE the actions that you are trying to portray as a movie in their minds, Chronological Order is the ONLY way to do it - and that INCLUDES Internal Narration!

            "There's a Chronological Order
            -- for Internal Narration?"

            You bet your hot pink knickers, Internal Narration has a chronological order! ESPECIALLY when Internal Conflict is involved.


            INTERNAL CONFLICT
            - has a VERY specific order of events.
            1) SHOW the Conflict.
            2) Tell WHAT is in Conflict.
            3) Tell WHY it’s in Conflict.
            4) Resolve the Conflict.

            1) Show them that there is a Conflict.
            Show them, through the ACTIONS & Dialogue of your characters that a conflict is happening. This is pure showing – all action.

            2) Tell them WHAT is in Conflict.
            This is a statement TELLING the reader through internal narration or dialogue exactly what is battling with what within the character. Want verses want. Is it their heart verses their body? Their good sense verses their desire? Their career verses their heart’s desire? Love for one verses lust for the other?

            3) Tell them WHY it’s in conflict – what is at stake?
            This is another statement internally or through dialogue telling the reader exactly what is at stake. Pile on the reasons, both pro and con. “I can’t do this because… But I want to because…”

            To make the most tension, state the Con first and then the Pro. (Don't ask me why it works better this way, I don't know! It just does.)

            4) Resolve the Conflict
            Make an Internal decision, and then have the character ACT on that decision.

            Scene OVERHAUL!!!

            When in doubt of ANY scene – pull it apart, sentence by sentence:

            HIS initiating Actions:
            • His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress.
            • His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown.
            • His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.
            HER Reactions:
            • Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart.
            • She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast.
            • He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal.
            • Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop.
            • I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...
            • He fired her blood more than any other man.
            • She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”
            His following Actions:
            • His gaze narrowed, then he smiled.
            • “Why? Why deny your desire?”
            Her following Reactions:
            • She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her.
            • “Forgive me, but I want to live.”
            His Initiating Action:
            • He moved closer, to stand but a breath away.
            • “Are you quite sure?”
            Actual order of events:
            1) He kissed her.
            2) She reacted, and wanted more.
            3) She had reasons to resist. (Internal CONFLICT!)
            4) She resisted.
            5) He sought to reestablish contact.
            6) She resisted.
            7) Closing

            The sentences that belong to each event:

            1) He kissed her.
            • His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress.
            • His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown.
            • His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.
            In Proper Sequence:
            His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress. His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown. His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.

            2) She reacted, and wanted more.

            • Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart.
            • I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...
            • He fired her blood more than any other man.
            In Proper Sequence:
            Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. He fired her blood more than any other man. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...

            3) She had reasons to resist = CONFLICT!
            • She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast.
            • He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal.
            • Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop.
            1) SHOW the Conflict.
            2) Tell WHAT is in Conflict.
            3) Tell WHY it’s in Conflict.
            4) Resolve the Conflict.

            1) SHOW the Conflict.
            • She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast.
            2) Tell WHAT is in Conflict?
            • Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop.
            3) Tell WHY it’s in conflict. What is at stake?
            • He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal.
            4) Resolve the conflict.
            (Oh, no! There’s nothing to put here! So, add something, right here, to state her decision.)
            • Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay.
            In Proper Sequence:
            She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay.

            Hmm… This still isn’t quite right. What’s the problem?

            This sentence:
            • She desperately wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, but set her palm over his to stop him, just below her breast.
            This has an ACTION mixed with a thought – and the Action is AFTER the thought. Not good. Let’s divide them.
            • She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast.
            This is an ACTION that SHOWS that there is a conflict, so it definitely belongs in this paragraph.
            • She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body.
            This is a Want. It needs to go in the previous paragraph, with the rest of the WANTS. So, let's go back to the previous paragraph, and put that WANT there.

            2) She reacted, and wanted more.
            • Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart.
            • He fired her blood more than any other man.
            • She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body.
            • I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...
            In proper Sequence - with new sentence added:
            Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. He fired her blood more than any other man. She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...

            What's left?
            • She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast.
            This is an ACTION that SHOWS that there is a conflict. Actions go first.

            In Proper Sequence:
            She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay.

            Yes, that's much better.

            4) She resisted.
            • She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”
            This actually belongs at the very end of the previous paragraph, as it SHOWS her decision, that she has resolved her conflict.

            In Proper Sequence:
            She set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay. She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”

            5) He sought to reestablish contact.
            • His gaze narrowed, then he smiled. “Why? Why deny your desire?”
            6) She resisted.
            • She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her. “Forgive me, but I want to live.”
            7) Closing.
            • He moved closer, to stand but a breath away. “Are you quite sure?”

            Dialogue RANT!
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            ACTION goes Before COMMENTS! Both Internal and External Dialogue happens AFTER Physical Reactions. The body reacts faster than thoughts or comments. Ask any martial artist.

            ATTACH the damned DIALOGUE! Don't seperate a character's dialogue from that same character's actions by giving it a new paragraph. The reader automatically assumes that unattached -- abandoned -- dialogue belongs with the NEXT paragraph!

            I'm sorry, but honest to god, I didn't make it up! You're supposed to separate the characters from each other & connect a character's dialogue to their actions.

            According to Strunk & White's Elements of Style:
            -- "In dialogue, each speech, even if only a single word, is a paragraph by itself; that is, a new paragraph begins with each change of speaker."

            The key phrase here is "Change of Speaker". If the Speaker is ACTING his actions belong in the same paragraph with his dialogue because THE SPEAKER HAS NOT CHANGED.

            Dialogue normally belongs at the END of the paragraph. If you have several things to say, split the dialogue bits with that character's Actions -- NOT Dialogue Tags.

            You CAN Begin a paragraph with dialogue! But ONLY when that Dialogue is a knee-jerk Reaction to an ACTION in the previous Paragraph.
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            ADJUSTED into Proper Sequence:
            With additional minor adjustments, for continuity.
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress. His hand pressed at her waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through the corset underlying the deep blood silk gown. His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.

            Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. He fired her blood more than any other man. She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy...

            She set her palm over his, just below her breast, and stopped him. Her flesh begged for his touch, and yet, the fear in her soul told her to stop. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. Yes, she wanted him, but death was simply to high a price to pay. She turned away from his kiss. “Please, I dare not.”

            His gaze narrowed, then he smiled. “Why? Why deny your desire?”

            She stepped from his embrace and clasped her hands before her. “Forgive me, but I want to live.”

            He moved closer, to stand but a breath away. “Are you quite sure?”
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            That’s MUCH better, though still very Purple.

            Where did I pick up on how to do this?
            From COPYWRITING!

            The official Copywriter’s technique for writing any article:
            • Tell them what you are going to tell them.
            • Tell them.
            • Tell them why you told them.
            Transposed into Writing Conflict:
            • Tell them what you are going to tell them. (There’s a conflict)
            • Tell them. (The conflict.)
            • Tell them why you told them. (Why there’s a conflict.)
            I swear, taking that cheap course in copywriting was the absolute best investment toward my Fiction writing career – ever!

            Morgan Hawke
            www.darkerotica.net
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Thursday, June 02, 2005

            Copywriting Secrets to Writing Fiction

            Everything I learned about Writing Fiction
            I learned from Copywriting.
            Fiction writing is a LOT like professional Copywriting. A LOT of the rules are the SAME. For example, the “AIDA Formula” is the basic formula for advertising. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

            Get their Attention.
            Develop Interest.
            Create Desire.
            Get them to Take Action.

            In Fiction it becomes:

            Get their Attentionwith Unusual circumstances.
            Develop Interestwith gripping Drama.
            Create Desire (to know more) – with Hints, not Answers.Get them to Take ActionKEEP them READING

            The 3 Rules of Selling Anything
            1) People hate to be Sold.
            Don’t offer something you don’t intend to give them.

            Certain genre labels, like Romance, have very specific connotations that lead to very specific Expectations. People get really pissed if you MIS-REPRESENT those genre labels.

            For example... Don’t advertise your story as a Vampire Romance – if the Vampire ISN'T the Hero, even if the story IS a Romance! In fact, ESPECIALLY if it’s a Romance!

            Labeling a story as a “Vampire Romance”, leads a very specific group of readers to think they’re getting "a Romance about a Vampire". If they buy that book and it’s Not what they expect, or WORSE the TRUTH has been used against them, it’s a Romance with a Vampire in it, but the Vampire is the VILLAIN…! They not only feel Cheated – they feel SCAMMED. NOT a good way to keep Readers.

            2) People Buy for Emotional reasons,
            Not Rational reasons.

            People buy what they think they can USE. What do people get from a book? Knowledge and Information. This INCLUDES fictional stories.
            Everybody is looking for solutions to their personal issues.
            To make your story a “must read”, offer an ANSWER to a BURNING QUESTION! (Ahem, PREMISE = the story’s ISSUE.)
            • “So, how do I get the handsome guy I just met?”
            • “How do I deal with my new stepchildren?”
            • "How do I deal with a sucky job, and a boss I seriously loathe?"
            • “How do I know I found someone worthy of being my husband, or lover?”
            • “How do I deal with a monster in my closet?” (VERY popular among Young Adults.)
            Ever hear the phrase: “People are People”? No matter who they are, or where they live, human issues Never change. "People are People." Embrace this phrase, love this phrase, use and abuse this phrase! THIS is the key to fiction people WANT to read.

            Sure, you could be writing a Horror or a Fantasy – but the people in your horror or fantasy should STILL be dealing with the same issues everybody else deals with:

            • Sucky bosses - How do you think Saruman really felt about working for Sauron?
            • Love interests - How do you think Rose Cotten felt when Samwise Gamgee never showed up for a midnight smooch after Bilbo's party?
            • Family issues - Eowen of Rohan had to deal with a senile dad PLUS several bossy older brothers.
            • Monsters under the bed - Wringwraths & Orcs. Need I say more?
            No matter how fantastic or unusual, people STILL suffer from the same issues. The trick is making those issues INTERESTING.

            Traditional hard-core Sci-Fi answers theoretical (scientific) questions, such as “What if we lived on another planet?” But few of them talk about PEOPLE Problems. This is all well and fine for those interested in such things - but the average reader is far more concerned with personal issues. And so the popularity of hard-core Sci-Fi suffers.

            NEVER FORGET: People only buy what they think they can USE RIGHT THEN – not tomorrow, not next week, not a hundred years from now. And people have only ONE true interest – Themselves.

            Special Note:
            People buy Erotic Fiction for a REASON:
            The plain truth: People buy erotic fiction to get the warm tinglies. No if’s, and’s, or but’s – they are buying it for the SEX.

            It doesn’t matter if you have the most fabulous story in existence, if you have labeled that story as Erotic, no matter what kind of pretty words you couch it in, or sit it next to, (and that includes the word Romance,) – that story had better deliver on the SEX.

            ANY story labeled as Erotic, MUST deliver on the SEX and that Sex better get the Reader Hot and Bothered, because that’s what the Reader buys Erotic Fiction FOR.

            If you can’t deal with this basic truth – DON’T label the story as EROTIC!

            3) After they Buy, people seek to Justify
            - their emotional decision with logic or reason.

            After a buyer coughs up their cash for your worthy product, they need to be reassured sure they've made the right decision with logic and reason. You have to deliver EVERYTHING the Buyer expects, seriously, to make their purchase seem worthwhile.

            It’s as simple as: DELIVER on that excitement you posed in the cover blurb. ANSWER your story’s problematic Issues – and make it Good! Writing about a relationship problem without delivering on a Satisfying Conclusion to the ISSUE makes Frustrated Readers.

            Frustrated Readers = Won’t buy your Next Book.

            Oddly enough, a Happy Ending doesn’t seem to be as important as delivery on that satisfactory Answer. However, if the genre you are writing in has a reputation for Happy Endings, you better deliver that Happy Ending – PLUS a Satisfactory Answer.

            (And people think writing a Romance is EASY???)

            Special Note:
            Justifying Erotic Fiction – to the Reader:
            You absolutely, positively MUST reassure the Reader that they are NOT Reading PORN!!!

            Yes, they bought the book for the SEX – but they Don’t want to admit it! Your job is to make sure They Never Have To! (Unless of course, they want to.)

            This means you better have a Damned Good STORY with the Sex, so they can turn to their husband, wife, and granny and say: “Oh, it’s just a Fantasy, a Suspense, a Sci-Fi, a Romance…” To make that argument convincing, you had better make darned sure that story is EXACTLY what it’s co-labeled as: a Fantasy, a Suspense, a Sci-Fi, a Romance – in addition to being Erotic. And you better make it GOOD. That means: worth talking about, so they don’t have to mention the sex-bits if they don’t want to.


            Other Copywriting & Marketing
            Wisdom Bits

            Write like You Talk
            You’ve been hearing it everywhere – “Use snappy dialogue!” Why is that? Because that’s how people in this day and age talk, it’s what the Reader is used to HEARING. Anything else just sounds…wrong.

            You’ve also been hearing “Cultivate your writing VOICE!” Boy, has that one been misunderstood big-time.

            VOICE = “Write like the POV CHARACTER talks.”

            How simple is that? The story is ALWAYS told in the POV character's style, snotty, aggressive, sweet, whatever... Anything else is AUTHOR INTRUSION!

            Know Your BUYER Cold
            What's your typical Readers’ age range? What's their approximate income level, on average? What things do they tend to like or buy? Their gender? Marital status? Have any children? Own their own home? Are there any hobbies that a lot of your customers seem to have in common? What do a lot of them do for a living? What kinds of things do they consider "good" "bad" "great" "awful" "a sin" or "saintly"?

            Readers identify with characters. They like to think that THEY could handle your story situations EXACTLY like your characters! Possibly better! Your job as a writer, is to ENCOURAGE this impression.

            Knowing your typical Reader allows you to TAILOR your Fiction to your Readers. Make your characters the same kind of people as your Readers, with the same likes and dislikes. Use situations that your Readers face, such as relationships issues and careers problems. This automatically makes your characters sympathetic – and Likeable.

            Okay, so you have a totally fantastic landscape with totally fantastic characters, how do you make This type of story sympathetic to Mary Ordinary? Give them a problem, a situation and ISSUES similar to a situation your Reader would have to deal with.

            Say you have a Unicorn in a fantasy land. How could a creature like this possibly be similar to Mary Ordinary? Have the Unicorn fall in love with a Dragon. Now there are some serious Relationship issues!

            Know Your Product - Intimately
            Want to get hate-mail fast? Write about something you don’t know a gosh-darned thing about. I can’t say it enough: RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!

            Whether you are writing a Vampire story, a Historical, a Fantasy, or a Sci-Fi, be aware that your reading audience has very likely read every single book on that subject they could get their grubby mitts on – for YEARS. They probably know your subject Better than YOU.

            NEVER write about something you don’t know backwards and forwards, because the Readers will KNOW if you don’t know diddly-squat about your subject.

            Have Passion for your Product!
            If you're not sold - completely and utterly - on the story you are telling, you can forget about getting to the Reader.

            Your level of passion for your subject and characters shines through your fiction. This is where “bleeding on the page” comes in. When you write about issues and situations truly close to you, something you yourself have lived through and suffered, that passion, that feeling, comes through on the page.

            If you want to make the Reader laugh or cry or scream with rage – use issues that make YOU laugh, cry or scream with rage in your fiction. BUT – make darned sure you only use issues you’ve already handled. Remember, you are not just presenting Issues – you are delivering ANSWERS. Don’t write about an issue you Don’t have an Answer for or you will paint yourself into a corner Really Fast.

            Educate Your Buyers
            Expose the reader to new ideas, new cultures, and give them new experiences that no one else can give them… BUT never in big honking "no-action happening here" paragraphs!

            Info-dumps are bad. Okay?


            Don’t just TELL the Reader stuff – make the reader LIVE through that stuff in your story. Make them EXPERIENCE your worlds, your situations, and SEE what you have to say! Back-story should be dropped in bits and bites through out the action and dialogue. Description is the same way – keep it Short – keep it TIGHT.

            Make everything - characters, settings, objects - do Double-Duty! If you don't USE it more than once - Don't bother putting it IN the Story!

            The rule of Mystery Fiction: “If the gun is shown in Chapter One – it better go off by Chapter Three -- and there had better be a damned good reason for that gun to be there.”

            The Rule of Erotic Fiction: “If the Kiss is shown in Chapter One – the Sex better happen by chapter three -- and there had better be a damned good reason for that Kiss to be there.”

            A Final Tip from
            ~ Walt Disney ~
            "Do what you do so well and so uniquely that your customers can't resist telling others about you."


            Morgan Hawke
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            www.darkerotica.net